“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” — Oscar Wilde
Sometimes, when my mind is idle or the weather is grey, when I am overwhelmed with my growing to-do list or discouraged by bad news, I struggle with what I fondly refer to as The Conundrum.
The Conundrum never goes away; it cannot be resolved, nor can I be effectively consoled about its omnipresence. The Conundrum is, in my view of the world, an incontrovertible fact. It is rooted in solid logic and, being an intensely rational individual (often to a fault), I cannot escape it. It is the whispering in my ear, the tugging at my sleeve, the devil dancing in the details. The Conundrum is always there.
We all stumble through life in our own ways, along our own paths. We may all be in search of the same things—happiness, love, freedom from suffering, security—but we all take a different approach in pursuit of these things. I’ve watched my few longtime girlfriends take wildly divergent paths in the past decade: one is a married stay-at-home mom in suburbia; one has a kid and a partner, but works full-time in manufacturing; one lives in her car and repairs wind turbines across the country when she’s not making music; and one got married and lives with her in-laws in England. And then there’s me. Continue reading →
Sometimes we traverse a long, convoluted road through hostile territories of our own making. And sometimes this road grows longer with every step we take along it; the road winds endlessly through hills and gullies without clear direction, without horizon. Ironically, this infinite path invariably leads us right back to where we started.
And so we arrived in Ben’s childhood home, Haifa.
We took the train from Herzliya, and Ben’s relatives collected us from the station. Itai and Gadi, brothers, live most of the time in the Northwest Territories of Canada, but they were in Israel to help care for their parents (Ben’s grandparents), Assad and Marilla, for a few months. Good timing on our part! Though we could not stay with Ben’s grandparents in Tiv’on (a suburb of Haifa) due to my cat allergy, we stayed with some neighbors who were kind enough to open their home to us for a couple nights. Continue reading →
In America, we are accustomed to buying most (if not all) of our food and consumer goods at large-scale chain stores. Need some produce? Go to Safeway, Whole Foods, etc. Need a power adaptor or a new kettle? Try Lowe’s, Sears, or Ace. We never meet the owners of such establishments; they are faceless corporations driven by the market alone.
Much of the rest of the world does not operate this way, however. In many countries, individuals run stalls at large community shopping areas. The Middle East boasts various souqs (pronounced “shukes”), all with a wide variety of goods for sale. In Jerusalem, you can buy anything from a yard of fabric to a stereo system (and just about everything in between) without ever setting foot in a chain store. There are chain supermarkets in the New City should you be so inclined to visit one, but the Old City souqs have much more charm and a livelier atmosphere. Continue reading →